Mummers – Violence begets trust

October 9, 2007

The description of what this has evolved into seems more like a Halloween-ified social bonding event.
clipped from www.physorg.com

According to tradition small groups of villagers in Newfoundland or mummers disguise their identities and go to other houses to threaten violence as a means of establishing trust within a community.
According to tradition, small groups of villagers in Newfoundland, or mummers, disguise their identities and go to other houses to threaten violence, as a means of establishing trust within a community.

Residents of small isolated fishing villages on the northern peninsula of Newfoundland have participated in the ritual of ‘mumming” for centuries. According to the tradition, small groups of villagers, or mummers, disguise their identities and go to other houses to threaten violence, whereupon the people of the houses try to guess the intruders’ identities.

A study by researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia argues that this tradition is a manner of communicating trust and trustworthiness. The mummers who threaten violence must prove themselves trustworthy by not committing a real act of violence, and the hosts of the invaded home must demonstrate trust by not responding to threats with fear or violence, said Christina Nicole Pomianek, an MU doctoral student.
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